Monday, June 17, 2013

Riding Tip For The Week: Clear That Intersection!

We have all seen them before.  We have all had to brave their angry jaws over and over, again.  Like it or not, we have all had to face them: The Dreaded Intersection.  Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they serve a necessary, albeit, dangerous function in the flow of traffic.  Here is a tip on how get through them and live to ride another day.

Since we all have to deal with these obnoxious danger zones, I am passing on a tip which can save your life.  Clearing The Intersection is a valid term used to describe looking both ways to make absolutely sure cross traffic has indeed stopped.  Yes, you may have the right of way, be it via a traffic light or stop sign, but not everyone out there behind a steering wheel is paying attention, lest alone to you on a bicycle.  In the most simplistic terms: Looking before you enter any intersection will indeed save your life, someday.

I was again reminded why I always clear an intersection when I was at a very busy four-lane, four-way, traffic light controlled version.  When the light turned green for me, I did my customary look right and left, and that was when I saw her.  She pulled out of a gas station to my left, ran the red light at very high speed, and would have killed any bicyclist which had not cleared the intersection.  In short, this bitch was a complete douchebag, not only for her careless act of stupidity, but for the fact she was laughing while she did it.

In my bicycling experiences, I have seen people as aware as the proverbial hawk, and I have seen people totally asleep while riding, especially so at intersections.  The latter are the one’s which need to take clearing an intersection to heart.  I have ridden with some people for whom, unfortunately, it looks to be not a matter of if, but when, they will be taking a ride in the back of a Coroner’s Wagon.  Sad to admit, but this is very true.  See, there are people who are in their own little worlds on a bike, just as there are those in their own little worlds behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.  Statistically, and tragically, they both will meet someday.  Our mission is to not be one of those statistics. 

A hardcore case in point: A friend of mine lost her Law Enforcement husband while he was on duty.  For over two decades he was a Motor Officer, rode safe, was aware of his environment, and had avoided injury due to his safety diligence, and, he was a cross-county road cyclist.  But then, one day, it happened.  Near home, comfortable in his surroundings, and undoubtedly at ease in his mind, he made a fatal, deadly mistake.  He entered an intersection on his patrol motorcycle without clearing it first.  He was broadsided by a driver that ran the red light, and his life was ended instantly.  He left behind a wife and a son.

Why share such a tragedy with all of you?  Well, I too ride motorcycles, and have been doing it for over thirty-years.  I was taught by an experienced rider a list of “Golden Rules” about motorcycling, all of which were laid out to save my life, and to insure a lifetime of happy miles.  One of those rules was to “Always clear an intersection.”  That piece of wisdom not only applied to my motorcycling life, it has also transferred over, and proven extremely useful, to my bicycling life, as well.

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